Autologistic models for binary data on a lattice

J. Hughes, M. Haran, and P. C. Caragea

Environmetrics (1 November 2011)

DOI: 10.1002/env.1102

The autologistic model is a Markov random field model for spatial binary data. Because it can account for both statistical dependence among the data and for the effects of potential covariates, the autologistic model is particularly suitable for problems in many fields, including ecology, where binary responses, indicating the presence or absence of a certain plant or animal species, are observed over a two-dimensional lattice. We consider inference and computation for two models: the original autologistic model due to Besag, and the centered autologistic model proposed recently by Caragea and Kaiser. Parameter estimation and inference for these models is a notoriously difficult problem due to the complex form of the likelihood function. We study pseudolikelihood (PL), maximum likelihood (ML), and Bayesian approaches to inference and describe ways to optimize the efficiency of these algorithms and the perfect sampling algorithms upon which they depend, taking advantage of parallel computing when possible. We conduct a simulation study to investigate the effects of spatial dependence and lattice size on parameter inference, and find that inference for regression parameters in the centered model is reliable only for reasonably large lattices (n > 900) and no more than moderate spatial dependence. When the lattice is large enough, and the dependence small enough, to permit reliable inference, the three approaches perform comparably, and so we recommend the PL approach for its easier implementation and much faster execution. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

keywords: Bayesian; Markov random field; maximum likelihood; parallel computing; perfect sampling; pseudolikelihood; spatial

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